Information is always a key component for an economy to function by acting as medium and ingredient of propelling economic growth. Information, unlike other components of an economy which their use leads exhaustion and eventual replacement, is more regenerative in that its use leads to development of new ideas.
The source remains intact and there is room for modifying the information to new level. Thus, information is a commodity that is always increasing compared to other limited resources of an economy. With the ever-advancing high bandwidth digital networks technology, information is being reproduced and improved in millions of ways from place to place at every available time (Rowland, 2006. P. 401).
With this advancement in technology in this information age, information is very accessible and it is not a scarce resource. In economics, all commodities used in the production of a substance are generally viewed as scarce, and are priced and reflect in the final cost of the final substance.
Although initial generation of the original piece of information may be high, reproduction and sharing of information is less costly or even free. These conditions make it very difficult for the economist to price the value of information in marginal cost of a product.
Due to availability of information, placing restrictive ownership on information is hard, though with applications of copyright or patent laws the information can be made scarce and available only to those who have paid for it (Rowland, 2006. P. 402). The copyright laws normally are devised to help in pricing efforts and they create unusual scarcity of information.
Considering that, in the existing competitive market, economies having informed customers have a competitive edge, revealing whole or part of the product information is important in order to win loyal customers. This necessary revealing of information makes the marginal cost of information to be greatly reduced or even tend to zero.
First, the debate on use of artistic or intellectual property has been extended from economical scope to political and other avenues, with one group favoring promotion of just the arts and writers interest while the other favors creating scarcity by enforcing copy right laws, to further their profit motives (Rowland, 2006. P. 403).
The first idea would involve making the public pay some amount, which is generally small when accessing the content through download or other means. When this idea is applied, it might not be successful due to availability of related materials free in other web pages.
Secondly, according to Herbert Schiller, companies are using the freedom found in the internet to create global ideology in support of corporate capitalism without caring about the personal and social conditions of life.
Thirdly, the internet has created a virtual market space that exists nowhere and everywhere at the same time, and is accessible worldwide, with good multimedia conditions allowing trade transactions, meeting between buyer and seller, and services to be rendered (Rowland, 2006. P. 404).
In addition, the internet has been much commercialized leaving limited public space. Lastly, the information avenues have become much politicized and are filled with junk leaving limited opportunity for the public to voice their concerns.
The World Wide Web, the graphical-interface Web browser, and the search engine tools have really shaped the face and the capabilities of the internet we enjoy to-date.
These feature completely revolutionized the internet, with the World Wide Web introducing hyperlinks to replace list of content, while the graphic-interface introduced user-friendly platform of point and click changing from bleak text and arcane keyboard commands, and lastly, the search engine made access of information from the internet fast and simpler (Rowland, 2006, P. 363).
The World Wide Web made internet easy to use thus removing hindrances that had almost confined internet use to corporate, academic, and military purposes, bringing the internet to the mainstream public.
The World Wide Web internet seems a common daily phenomenon today; however, before reaching this point, it was uncommon phenomenon to ordinary people, only found in news regarding it development. A break in the development of World Wide Web was in 1974 when the TCP/IP became public and a computer-based communication form called Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) emerged (Rowland, 2006, P. 364).
The BBS was commercialized by CompServe, allowing fee-paying subscribers to access emails, databases, and chatting services. In the late 1980s, CompServe had grown very much, attracting huge commercial interest from investors, and leading to it having a global reach and expanding it services to include online services.
It was during this period that other BBS such as Fidonet, Prodigy, and AOL emerged, increasing internet access to millions of people. By 1990s, much of internet was still confined to the universities and academic world. During this period, the BBS companies competed heavily for subscribers and they introduced online advertising services.
Around this period, the telecommunication industry was evolving through introduction of fiber optic cable linked with satellite radio transponders, and with advancement in the technology, they increased interest in television cable services.
This led to emergence of information superhighways with high bandwidth delivery systems met to provide the subscribers with interactivity of news, databases, games and financial transactions on order and payment basis.
These companies based their system on capitalizing in digitization and interactivity of microprocessors. On launching their multimillion-dollar investments, people did not show much interest as the new services were of low standard and people were already comfortable with video libraries, special cable channels and the normal TV.
With limited internet experience of the top company leaders, the superhighway idea of the telecommunication companies did not succeed as expected. This idea mainly failed because companies did not want to offer freedom found in internet, in that, you do not only get content you are also part of the content.
In 1995, the internet was growing slowly due to interface challenge, which was solved by introduction of universal standards of posting data in the net and a universal addressing system of retrieving the data, with the first being HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) followed by HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and renaming of the internet to World Wide Web (Rowland, 2006. P. 369).
These protocols are free of charge and allow hyper-linking of documents by creating a link between the highlighted word(s) and the coded information underneath the page. The current World Wide Web has been improved through highly sophisticated multimedia environment and browser tools such as Yahoo, Google, and Amazon.
According to Howard Rheingold (2010), there are five social media literacies namely: Attention, Participation, Collaboration, Network awareness, and Critical consumption.
All the five literacies are very much interlinked; and to achieve success in using social media, proper interaction and use of all the five of them in the digital medium is very vital. In my case, I will consider Attention, Participation, and Collaboration literacies as the most important literacies.
Attention is described as a very vital element of how people think, interrelate, communicate, socialize in gatherings, impart knowledge and in advancement of societies (Rheingold, 2010). Attention can be fully or partially given or received.
Being human beings, we have very evolved attention condition centers, enabling us to pay complete or partial attention depending on the situation. The ability to pay partial attention to more than one event at the same time is described as multitasking.
Depending on the degree of seriousness of the activity I am undertaking, I can either multitask or decide to focus completely on one aspect. Like other people, I value attention very much in whatever am doing and giving attention to what I feel is relevant.
In social networks like face book and twitter, I seek attention and give attention to like-minded groups or topics I am interested in. To get attention in these networks, I post my comments on various current issues, and invite friends and varied people to join me in the chat. Since attention is mostly two-way traffic, I also respond to their comments or invitations.
In class, I pay full attention when serious topics are being presented, answer and ask questions, and sometimes multitask through taking notes while at the same time, chatting on the net with classmates and friends. During free times, I normally multitask through reading, listening to music and chatting at the same time.
Participation in the social media is very much aided by the technologies we possess and use regularly from phones to computers, which are all powerful tools aiding adoption of positive culture of active participation in the online social networks.
By participation, you are beginning a journey in these networks and it is always good to participate in a beneficial manner, to both you and other users even though people mostly do not care what is posted (Rheingold, 2010).
Through active positive participation, you change from a mere consumer of the networks to opinion shaper, igniting debates and chats that are even more active.
I normally participate in the social networks like facebook and twitter and many blogs through answering chats and questions, posting of comments and creating rooms for more debates by raising questions such as; what are your views of the current Arab world revolution? Which is the next move by government in tackling recession?
The powers of collaboration literacies enable people from varied backgrounds, places, ideologies, and nationalities allover the world to come together to share ideas, advance causes and interact through the social media.
Through collaboration, people are empowered and are able to use power of masses to bring change. For collaboration, I have joined many discussion groups, chat with many people, and highlight issues affecting the community through the network.
Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies. Educause Review, vol. 45, no. 5, Pp. 14–24.
Rowland, W. (2006). Spirit of the Web: The Age of Information from Telegraph to Internet. NY: Thomas Allen Publishers.